Your Business is Customer Centric – Yeah Right!

Ineffective websites – not talking the language of customers

Most businesses in NZ suck at marketing.  They under invest in sales activities and in many cases waste marketing spend creating campaigns, websites and newsletters that do not appeal to their target audience.

Too often the “just do it” drive and focus on “pretty” means businesses do not take the time to extract a powerful core message, “story” and purpose to drive their business and marketing campaigns. All this results in what I call “crap in – crap out” marketing and business planning. Evident by the number of company web sites that have weak selling messages and non- focused businesses selling to everyone.

What I am suggesting is slow down long enough to analyse your customers world and re-purpose your business on what’s important – your customer.

Most web design companies do not have the capability to extract your core marketing messages; they lack the breadth of business and market knowledge. Like any process the better the input  (the design brief) the better the output – you need to own the brief.

When asked – most if not all businesses will proclaim they are customer centric.  If you asked all of your staff “what does our business do?”, how many unprompted would mention the problem you solve for your customers vs how you solve it or what your core “craft” is.

An emphatic focus on the customer and solving their pain is crucial element of all business success.

Ask a business that creates software, what sort of business they are and they will invariably come back with “we are a software company”.  This is not surprising, given they spend most of their life thinking and creating software products.  The reality is their customers do not care at all about the software, they primarily care about what the software does for them (how they measure success).  No matter what your craft is whether it’s: software, science, baking cakes or fixing bicycles it is never about your craft for the purchaser.  Your customers are primarily interested in WIFM (what’s in it for me) and that will include how they measure success.
In the B2B environment more often than not customers want increased sales, productivity or cost reduction. In the B2C place in many cases it comes back to some form of “experience”. What pain or problem are you solving for your customer? What is your customer’s measure of success?

 Successful businesses base all their business activities around solving customer problems, continually reference and reinforce their key selling points and how their customers measure success.

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Make sure your web sites lead story is about solving the customer’s problem and the outcome they get, rather than how you solve it. Use the language of your customer not your internal how we do it language. Once you hook them with the what, then tell them how, not before.

Don’t forget the three most power tools for communicating customer success are: customer stories, contrast (with and without your product) and quantifying the outcome they get.

The better and more succinct the definition of your customer pain and your solutions outcome, the more powerful your marketing and other business activities will become.

Suffering “the curse of knowledge”, we are simply to close and pre-occupied with how we solve the problem, to articulate the new buyer trigger points. My suggestion is get a 3rd party who understands your craft to help unravel the customer need, to create a better creative briefs and core purpose to drive business activities.

This focus on customer equally works for your business planning and day to day operations. You can use the power of a succinct purpose to empower your staff to make better decisions on the fly.  Remember the Williams Formula One Team mantra – we make the car go faster. Any one on the team can make decisions on the spot: does this activity make the car go faster? Then lets do it!

 How does your business stack up?

 Customer centric test:

  1. Does your website use your customer’s language (outcomes) or yours? (Features or benefits)
  2. Do you begin customer discussions with how you will solve, rather than the problem or outcome?
  3. Have you asked current customers, Particularly repeat customers, why they buy from you? Have you included their response in your messaging?
  4. Do you use the customer problem to help decide what you do and don’t do in your business?
  5. If any of your staff were asked what do you do – will they give a customer centric response?
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Don’t let your public speaking skills limit your potential

Finding your voice – could be the easiest way to accelerate your business or careers success.

Whether you are a business owner or executive trying to get ahead, your success will be severally limited unless you can master the art of public speaking.

Standing out from the crowd is an essential element of success for people and businesses alike. Public speaking is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to stand out in the crowded market place.   Whether it is how you speak at meetings or getting a speaking engagement at trade conferences.

Some people love public speaking, others dread it… but whether it’s speaking to conferences, sales calls or just plain networking and major meetings; it is clear that even to day in the digital age you need to master the art of speaking to get ahead.

Only 7% of message impact comes from the words we use. The rest from the way we deliver it.  The way that you deliver “your words”, comes from how we process things internally and can be reprogrammed.

To develop confidence and passion into your speaking here are a few tips:


Personal brand – Consciously own a style

Too often the inexperienced speaker will put on their “speaking voice”, inadvertently becoming someone other than themselves on stage. Generally that “speaker voice” is a poor version of you and they are selling you short. Save the being someone else to the professional actors. The easiest person to be is you.

Get clear about who you are and what your personal brand stands for. Develop a written list of key characteristics of your person brand, values and style in your normal non-speaking business life. Then use this list to encourage and challenge yourself to be that on stage. Remember being “consciously competent” is the step in learning before “unconscious competence”.

If you work for a corporate do not loose your individualism and personal brand completely to the company brand. For “owner managers”

Use a topic you are passionate about to start

Ask yourself “What part of my topic am I most passionate about?”  Use this in your opening, if you are truly passionate about it, your body will change its physiology and you will become alive on stage.

Stand for something: Have a few “soap box” topics

Have a few pet topics that you can speak on, so that given short notice you always have something to talk about. Make a bold claim; debate is one of the most powerful ways to engage audiences.

Just Do it

Yes nothing will get you better at speaking than practice. Take every opportunity to practice. Start by always asking questions at conferences and large meetings. Hunt down speaking opportunities; industry associations are a good place to start.

If you lack speaking opportunities join a toastmasters club. Toastmasters provide a friendly and inspirational environment to learn and improve every week. I personally got a lot out of attending a club for a while and was blown away by the relaxed format and inspiration speeches I heard.

Get Help

The quickest way to improve you learning is to get some one on one coaching and critique.

Basic steps to finding your voice:

  1. Personal commitment to fix it
  2. Process of creating a conscious personal brand – and using it as a strength in presentation style
  3. Learning some mechanics / tools of delivery that are compatible to you
  4. Creating the message to deliver for the voice medium.
  5. Personal coaching on all above – including follow up coaching

At GMC we help business owners and executives who want to “find their voice” in the business environment,  helping you discover what to say and how to say it. Unlike traditional speaking coaches we get business and business people – and come from a business perspective rather than entertainer or actor mind-set.

No Value Proposition – No Business.

Yet another “Me too” or “a solution looking for a problem” – Ideas that fly or not ?

What says your idea, product or business is going to fly or not? In the capital raising business we get plenty of chance to evaluate new business ideas and products. It is amazing how many mad inventors we come across in contrast to entrepreneurs or business people. So what’s the difference: inventors have ideas – entrepreneurs have validated value propositions and business models that work.

 Recently at MORGO Steve Bayliss tabled a great approach to marketing and new product definition. Here is Steve’s test that he applies to new product ideas:

  • ‘Genuine innovation solves a customer problem more delightfully and accessibly than existing alternatives. And as importantly, innovation isn’t a novelty, nor a response to a competitor move, nor a line extension the core brand has no right to make’.

The key point  here is the significant difference between current solution and yours. 

If you can not articulate a good value proposition,  then fix it or give up!

Fundamentally you do not have a business unless you can offer your customers something of value. I strongly advocate if you can not quantify the gain of your client, as a result of using your product or service, then sales will be hard work.

If you are not adding measurable value to your customers, you are going to become, at best, a discretionary spend for the few people who get it,  rather than being a must buy.
Fundamental to your pitch, is the succinct story that describes your value proposition in a palatable way.

If your sales have plateaued – more than likely you are selling technology or ideas, rather than business solutions – your pitch is wrong.  Spend time uncovering your true value proposition – change your pitch and your approach to business focusing on areas that customers will pay for as a top priority.  A starting point, go ask your existing or potential customers how their business will be different as a result of using your product or service.

It blows me away how many companies describe themselves by their craft  … “we’re a software company”  …well no CFO or CEO the ones with cheque books wakes up at 3am wanting to by software. I know software people wake up dreaming of new software platforms…but people don’t need software platforms they need “solutions to real business problems”.

In the business to business environment if you can not quantify commercial gain for your customers you do not have a sustainable business. 

As far as assessing whether your company will make it or not a value proposition that has been validated by the market is the first step – fail on this count and no savvy investor will touch you.